AUGUST: Critters in the Rivers

August 2019

AUGUST FEATURES: Mountain Lions. 

Mountain lions are ambush predators that eat mostly deer. These large cats help keep prey populations, such as deer, in check. This helps to prevent overbrowing of trees and shrubs in riparian areas. (This month’s artwork by 6th grade student, Linneae Crandall.)

TRACKING MAMMALS – MOUNTAIN LIONS

  • Mountain Lion Tracks are:
  • 2.2 – 4.2 in (5.7 – 10.5 cm) long.
  • 1.6 – 4.3 in (4.1 – 10.9 cm) wide.
  • 4 round toes show in the track. The inside toe (toe 1) is higher up the leg and does not usually register.
  • Sharp, retractable claws rarely show.
  • The track is asymmetrical. Toe 3 is the longest and is useful for determining side of body. Track is flat with toes and palm pad registering about the same depth.
  • Palm pad is trapezoidal with 2 lobes at the anterior end. Palm pad is proportionately larger than in canine tracks, usually about the size of 4 toe pads.
  • Front track is wider and more asymmetrical than the hind track.

DID YOU KNOW…. The full moon this month falls on August 15th. It is named after North America’s largest fish, the lake sturgeon. Other names for this Full Moon include Grain Moon, Green Corn Moon, Fruit Moon, and Barley Moon, all inspired by various crops that can be harvested in August.


The lake sturgeon has a greenish-grey color and a pointed snout with two pairs of whisker-like tactile organs dangling near the mouth. It is sometimes called a “living fossil,” as it belongs to a family of fish that has existed for more than 135 million years.

Lake sturgeons are extremely long-lived. The males can reach 55 years, while females can live up to 150 years! And they can grow to be enormous. They are the American continent’s largest fish and can grow to over 2 meters long (6 feet) and weigh around 90 kilos (200 pounds).

Lake sturgeons do not only live in lakes; they also live in rivers, but not in the ocean. This monster fish used to be a major part of the ecosystems in North America’s Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and in the Mississippi River, and they were once found all the way from Canada to Alabama. Today, the lake sturgeon has become one of the rarest fish in North America because of intense overfishing in the 19th century, pollution, and damage to their habitat and breeding grounds due to agriculture and lumbering.


The Living with the Methow Calendar is available each year at Methow Arts and numerous location. These are free to the public with funding and support is provided by Washington Department of Ecology and Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Additional support from Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation, MRC partners, Bureau of Reclamation, the Methow Valley School District, Washington State Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, Methow Valley Fund, PSFA, Icicle Fund, and generous members of Methow Arts.